Fellow Movie Buffs

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Holiday Engagement"

Thirty-something Hillary has spent her whole life trying to please her demanding mother. Just before Thanksgiving, she breaks up with her well-to-do- fiancee. Rather than disappoint her mom one more time, she hires an actor to play her fiancee, whom the family has never met. Of course, hilarity ensues. All kinds of mix-ups and cover-ups. Obviously, it's not a very deep movie, but I though it was a fun diversion. A fun movie to watch with the whole family.
3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, December 20, 2012


What a perfect Christmas movie. It's about the lives of five people who are faced with spending Christmas alone. It's one of those films where several lives are interconnected. Noel stars Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz, Robin Williams, Paul Walker, and Alan Arkin. Be sure to have the tissues close by. I'm just a sucker for tearjerkers like this.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Michelle Williams plays a housewife who loses her husband and son in a terrorist attack at a soccer match while she's having an affair. She's guilt-ridden and struggles to cope with her loss. This is a powerful film and is difficult to watch at times. But Ms Williams gives an absolutely riveting performance. I really can't believe she's not in more movies. What a rare talent. This is a film well worth watching.
4 stars out of 5

Friday, December 7, 2012


If you like bank heist movies, this one's a lot of fun. A group of young robbers are into all kinds of extreme sports. They're constantly in training and plot one outrageous robbery after another with the cops breathing down their necks. Like most heist movies, you find yourself rooting for them. It features lots of plot twists and exciting chase scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat through the entire movie. About the only negative comments are that some of the dialog is a bit corny and the acting isn't always great. But it is a fun ride!
3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


After their mother dies, a twin brother and sister are left instructions that they have to deliver a letter to their father and brother, whom they no nothing about. They travel to the middle-east where their mother's life and her secrets are revealed. This is a very powerful film and not for the squeamish--there is plenty of violence, as it takes place in a war-torn Lebanon in the mid-1970s. The film jumps back and forth between the present day and the war years. When the truth is revealed near the end of the film, it's truly a "whoa" moment. Some scenes will haunt you for days.

4 stars out of 5

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Tortilla Soup"

What a charming film. It has just about everything in it: comedy, romance, family dynamics, and best of all, cooking. If you're a fan of foodie movies, you'll love this movie. I enjoyed Babette's Feast and Chocolat. I'm adding this one to my list. The story is about a single dad living with his three grown, headstrong, Latina daughters. The dad, Martin is a serious cook of all things Mexican. The close-up shots of him preparing all the food (and there's lot's of it), made me drool. The storyline involves his relationship with his daughters as well as their romantic encounters. Martin, (Hector Elizondo) was simply marvelous--charming, funny, and understated. His facial expressions cracked me up. Raquel Welsh plays a gold digger who has her sights on Martin--although her acting was a little over-the-top for my taste.  All-in-all, this is just a delightful feel good movie.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"My Life So Far"

What an absolutely wonderful movie. It's about a 10-year old boy, Fraser Pettigrew growing up in a mansion in Scotland in the 1920s. His family includes a bunch of characters, especially his dad, played by Colin Firth. His dad is a moss farmer and inventor. Not only is it a charming story, the photography and scenery are remarkable. This is what great storytelling is all about. I could watch this movie over and over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The Way Back"

One of the best movies I've seen in a long time. During WWII, a group of prisoners escape a gulag in Siberia in the middle of winter. Their goal is to walk through Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas to freedom. It's an astonishing, inspiring, true story. I loved the scenery and the acting. The story is loosely based on the book, The Long Walk by Slavomir Raqwicz.  Just amazing how strong the will to be free is.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Welcome to the Rileys"

This is one powerful film. It's dark and slow paced. But what a story and what great acting. A couple, who've been married for almost 30 years, have drawn apart after the death of their 15-year old daughter. The husband goes to New Orleans for a convention and ends up befriending a young stripper. He's not sure what he's doing, but he moves in with her. The performances by James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, and Melissa Leo are all subtle yet excellent. Warning, this is an adult film with lots of swearing. But it's a film that you'll think about for a long time.
3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Friday, November 2, 2012


An excellent little movie starring Jesse Eisenberg before he made it big playing in "the Social Network". He plays a recent college graduate who planned on spending his summer before grad school in Europe with his friends. Because of his family's financial woes, he's forced to take a job at Adventureland, the local amusement park. He makes friends with a bunch of smart Alecs and has plenty of adventures of his own, including romance. The dialog is smart and the characters are all believable. I can't stand movies like this where the characters are way over the top. About the only one is the manager of the park. The writing is pretty funny with lines like: "Check our her butt. It's the Plutonic ideal of what an ass should be." Plenty of laugh out loud moments. If you enjoyed "Middle of Nowhere", you'll love this movie.
4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Columbus Circle"

This one will keep you guessing right to the end. It involves an heiress who hasn't left her apartment in years. After her neighbor is murdered, a new couple quickly move in to the dead woman's apartment and the intrigue begins. I can't say more without giving away the plot. But let's just say there are plenty of plot twists and turns and "aha" moments. Well written and acted.

3 1/2 stars out of 5

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Bigger Than The Sky"

When sad sack Peter (Marcus Thomas) gets dumped by his girlfriend, he decides to join a theatre group who's putting on "Cyrano de Bertgerac" even though he's never acted before. He quickly falls in with the wild and crazy Michael (John Corbett) and the beautiful Grace (Amy Smart). I thought this movie was delightful. Well written and well acted.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPfhJiGR_I

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Four Lions"

A movie that focuses on the lighter side of terrorism. Seriously. It's a totally politically incorrect movie that revolves around a cell of bumbling, moronic terrorists in London. I know it sounds ridiculous, and that's the point. These guys are hilarious. You really have to pay attention because the dialog is hard to follow at times. But there are some absolutely brilliant lines in the movie. On of my favorites is when one of the terrorists is carrying some explosives, he accidently blows himself up bumping into a sheep. One of the others says, "He's a martyr. He was attacking the food chain." If you like Borat and Monty Python, you'll get a kick out of this movie.
3.5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Mind the Gap"

This movie is about the lives of five different people/families who are interconnected. The common theme is NYC, which you don't really discover until near the end of the film. I just love this kind of film. Think Robert Altman, but not as zany. I found myself pulled into the movie right from the start. The stories were interesting, it featured characters you really cared about, and I thought the writing and acting were great. Indie filmmaking at its best.
4 1/2 stars out of 5.

P.S. I couldn't find a trailer for this one, but trust me, it's well worth watching.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Rory O'Shea Was Here"

Rory O'Shea, who suffers from muscular dystrophy moves into a home and shares a room with young man who has cerebral palsy.  The two become fast friends and Rory pulls one outrageous stunt after another. It sounds depressing but the movie is far from it. It's a heart-warming story that'll have you laughing out loud. The performances by the two main characters is absolutely incredible. You'll find yourself rooting for Rory almost from the beginning of the movie. One of my faves.

5 stars out of 5!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time"

A couple, Todd and Allison, reconnect at their 10-year high school reunion. They were friends since childhood but lost touch with each other after graduating. The film takes place in a small town in Western Canada. It's a slice of real life. The acting, dialog, and scenery are excellent. Not a lot happens, no torrid sex scenes, no car chases, just a heartfelt little indie film. 
4 stars out of 5

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"My Life Without Me"

The movie is about Ann (Sarah Polley) who finds out she has a terminal illness. She decides to make a list of all the things she wants to do before she dies and proceeds to do them. She lives in a trailer behind her mom's house with her husband and two young daughters. Ann makes the most of her remaining days. While the movie sounds depressing, and granted, it's not a real cheery tale, it is quite inspiring. Sarah Polley gives an incredible and totally convincing performance, and Deborah Harry and Amy Plummer are also outstanding.
4 stars out of 5

Friday, September 14, 2012

"Kinky Boots"

No, it's not a porn film. It's a British comedy along the likes of "The Full Monty" and "Calender Girls". A twenty-something young man inherits the shoe factory that's been in the family for generations when his father unexpectedly dies. Due to imports and changing tastes, the factory falls on hard times. When he accidently runs into a cross-dressing performer,  events take a dramatic turn. The two of them decide to design boots for a new niche market. It's a humorous, touching, if not a bit predictable little movie.
3.5 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"

Slightly offbeat story, great acting, and excellent photography as the British do so well. The plot revolves around a wealthy Sheikh from Yemen who dreams of introducing salmon fishing to his country. To aid this improbable task, two characters, played by Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, are put on the job. McGregor thinks, with a great deal of justification, that the project is absolutely absurd. But they're propelled forward by the visionary Sheikh (Amr Waked) and an overenthusiastic press secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas). I don't know why this 2011 release wasn't more popular. Maybe because there weren't any explosions or high-speed car chases. I thought it was just a delightful movie all around.
4 1/2 stars out of 5

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Lovely, Still"

Mary (Ellen Burstyn moves across the street from Robert (Martin Landau), a lonely, elderly bachelor, and the two become romantically involved. The movie ambles along at a leisurely pace until the plot takes a dramatic turn. I won't give away what happens but it completely caught me off guard. Ms. Burstyn was quite good, however I thought Martin Landau seemed a little goofy, especially some of his facial expressions.

3.5 stars

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"The Space Between"

The storyline is simple. A jaded flight attendant feels obligated to keep an eye on a young Pakistani boy who's flying west. When the flight is grounded after 9/11, she takes matters in her own hands. (The boy's father is a worker in the World Trade Center.) She rents a car and the two of them head back east. The film is subtle and quite moving. And Melissa Leo gives a nuanced and outstanding performance. One more example of why I love indie films.
4 1/2 stars.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"The Go-Getter"

Perfect little road movie. It's about a young man who steals a car to find his brother. He's lost touch of him and he wants to reconnect with him and tell him their mom has died. Along the way he meets some real characters. He also is in contact with the owner of the car when she calls her cell phone which she left in vehicle. The cinematography, dialog, and acting are all excellent. This is the reason I love indie films.
4 stars out of 5

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"5 Star Day"

What an unexpected treat this movie was. The storyline is about a college senior who need to complete a project to graduate. His presentation revolves around the premise that astrology is B.S. Well, he reads his horoscope on his birthday, and it predicts one of his best days ever. A "5 star day". As it turns out, it's one of his worst days ever. So he embarks on a mission to track down three people who were born at the same time in the same hospital and compare how their birthdays were. I won't reveal any more of the story, but believe me, it's a movie well worth watching.
4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Others"

If you want to be totally creeped out by a movie, this one is your cup of tea. Nichole Kidman plays a mom who's raising two young children in a country home in Jersey during WWII. Her husband is away fighting for England and her daughter starts seeing ghosts in the house. Three mysterious former  workers show up to help with the household. Kidman starts to hear strange noises herself and starts to unwind. There were several times when the hair on the back of my neck stood up. This movie was subtle, but scared the crap out of me. This movie is like something Hitchcock would have made.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Middle of Nowhere"

Set in a small town in Ohio, this is a story about two teenage kids who meet while working at a theme park. They go into business together selling pot because he's looking for financial independence, while she needs money to go to med school. It's a story of self discovery and the excellent cast of unknowns (except for Susan Sarandon) do a great job.  The movie follows them through varios adventures over the course of a summer. It's not your typical "shallow and soulless kids behaving badly" movies. I found myself feeling for the young characters.  I think Dorian, (Anton Yelchin) and Grace (Eva Amurri)  are both promising young actors.
4 stars out of 5.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Phoebe In Wonderland"

A totally enchanting movie. Elle Fanning, in her first movie, delivers an absolutely incredible performance. She's a young girl who has some mental and emotional problems. She's totally infatuated with the Alice in Wonderland story. When she's cast in a school performance of the play, all her dreams come true. It's a feel good movie that's appropriate for the whole family.
4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Friday, June 29, 2012

"The Island on Bird Street"

What a gem of a movie!  It's the story of a young Polish Jew who has to fend for himself after his father is taken away by the Nazis. He manages to survive in the bombed out Ghetto in Warsaw. The movie reminds me of several post-Apocalyptic movies I've seen in that, for long periods of the film, there is no dialog and the young boy is the only person on camera. The story is both bleak and full of subtle optimism. The actor, Jordan Kiziuk won several awards for his performance and you can easily see why. It's a shame that this is the only movie he's made. What a powerful film. This one will stick with you for a long time!
4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"The Safety of Objects"

It's complicated. That's the best way to describe this interesting movie. The story involves the lives of four suburban families The movie starts out jumping back and forth among the families through the course of a day. Then it jumps back and forth in time. I know it sounds confusing, but in the end, it all makes sense. The connecting event involves Glen Close's son who is in a coma as the result of a car accident. The movie reminds me a little of an Altman film. It's not an uplifting movie, but it will definitely stick with you. 3 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"The Music Never Stopped"

What a great little film. It's about a boy who ran away while in high school. When his parents reconnect with him 29 years later, he has a brain tumor which makes it impossible to form new memories. He shows some improvement when he undergoes untested music therapy. The acting is excellent and the story is quite good. It's based on a true story. A heartwarming tearjerker. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"The Caveman's Valentine"

Samuel L. Jackson stars in this underrated thriller. He plays a former piano prodigy who is delusional and lives in a makeshift cave in New York City. When a body turns up outside his dwelling, he begins to investigate what he believes is a murder. Jackson gives a remarkable performance and the story takes some unique plot turns. It's a wild ride at times, but this offbeat murder mystery is well worth watching. I'd never heard about this movie and don't understand why it wasn't promoted more when it came out.
4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"The Way"

This is one of the best movies I've seen in ages. Totally blew me away. The story is about a father who travels to France to retrieve the remains of his son who died on a pilgrimage. While there, he decides to make the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago himself. Along the way he hooks up with three other trekkers. The performance by Martin Sheen as well as his companions was nothing short of brilliant. The writing and the scenery were both great as well. A movie that deserves repeat viewings. 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"A Simple Curve"

This film takes place in a small town in British Columbia. It's the story of Caleb, who's in his late 20s and his father, Jim, who own a high end woodworking shop. Their business is in trouble until hope arrives in the form of an old friend of Jim's. There's isn't a lot of action but the movie is well written and acted, especially Michael Hogan who plays the eccentric, old hippie Jim. The scenery is absolutely stunning. If you're looking for a sweet, feel good movie, this one's for you!
4 stars.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"A Great Wall"

I found "A Great Wall" a very sweet little indie movie. It's the dual story of a Chinese-American man who brings his family to China to visit his sister who he hasn't seen in 30 years. It also centers on her family in Peking. As you'd expect, the Chinese-American Dad takes in many aspects of Classical Chinese culture and learns to appreciate them. The movie is well acted. There's not a lot of action in the movie and it  does moves at a leisurely pace. In the end, I found it to be a real gem of a movie.

4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Never Again"

How refreshing. A romantic comedy aimed at adults instead of 16-year olds. This one stars Jill Clayburgh and Jeffrey Tambor (who I've only seen in Arrested Development). The two 54-year olds have decided after failed marriages to never fall in love again. Well, they end up meeting in a gay bar and of course, reluctantly fall for each other. The movie is witty, well written and is definitely geared for adults, with plenty of salty language. There are a couple scenes where I laughed out loud, which I rarely do at movies. The chemistry between the two is magical and Jeffry Tambor has some great lines. Four stars.

Trailer: http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/never-again/trailer

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Today's Special"

One of the best feel good movies I've seen in ages. The movie is about a young Indian American who has a job as a sous chef in a gourmet restaurant. When he gets passed over for a promotion, he quits his job and makes plans to learn cooking in Paris. However his plans change when a family tragedy occurs and he has to take over his father's run down Indian restaurant. Although the movie is somewhat predictable, that's okay. The acting is good overall, the characters are all charming, and the plot will keep you entertained. It's the kind of film I didn't want to end. Five stars out of five!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"American Wake"

The story is about a firefighter who recently lost a partner in a fire and a young, talented Irish-American fiddle player. It deals with their relationships with their girlfriends and coming to terms with their family's expectations of them. It stars Billy Smith and Sam Amidon and isn't your typical fast-paced Hollywood romantic comedy, yet it's not depressing either. Some viewers might find it slow moving but I thought the pace was just right. The title comes from an Irish party they throw for folks leaving for America, whom they figure they'll never see again. The acting, dialog, and story line were all excellent. And the beautiful photography and music added to the feel of this gem of a movie. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Broken English"

Parker Posey plays a single woman in her 30s who's friends are all in serious relationships. Then she meets an oddball Frenchman where things get complicated. Parker Posey is delightful, as she is in every movie I've seen her in. The acting, story line, and dialogue are all excellent. The movie was written and directed by Zoe Cassevetes. Four stars out of five.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

During china's Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, two college students are sent out into the country to purge them of their
western ways. During the course of the film they both become smitten with a beautiful, young seamstress. They fall under her spell and begin to educate her by reading from the western novels they've smuggled with them. The movie is every bit as good as the novel which I though was thoroughly charming. The scenery and the cinematography are spectacular. Four out of five stars.

(Sorry, I couldn't find a trailer for this one. You'll just have to trust me. Or send me a link if you find one)

Monday, March 26, 2012

"The Couple"

One of the best WWII movies I've seen in a long time. Martin Landau plays a Jewish industrialist in Nazi-occupied Hungary. The story revolves around his negotiating with the Nazis to trade his wealth for his family's freedom. It also focuses on the fate of his two loyal servants. The performances are great, it's an excellent story line, and it's a total nail-biter, especially near the end of the movie. I can't tell you more without giving away the story. If you like epic movies set in WWII, you have to see this movie. For some reason Netflix changed the original title from "The Aryan Couple" to "The Couple" so you may find it under either title.

Five stars out of five.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Bottle Shock"

A film based on the true story of the beginnings of the wince industry in California in the early 1970s. It's stars the always amusing Alan Rickman who's a sine snob and the owner of a wine shop in Paris. And there's a whole cast of characters in California's Napa Valley who are dedicated to producing wines that rival French ones. Bill Pullman plays the owner of Chateau Montelena and Chris Pine plays his slacker son. Good acting all around and the story is well done, especially since is based on real life events. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.


Sunday, March 18, 2012


Wow. What a difficult; movie to watch. It's a a film about a a woman who has cancer and she knows she wont survive. It's one of the most brilliant acting jobs I've ever seen. Emma Thompson deserved an Oscar for this film. Be sure to get out your tissues, because you'll surely need them. What an an amazing film.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"The Flying Scotsman"

To use the old cliche, this is a movie about the triumph of the human spirit. It's the true story of Graeme Obree, amateur cyclist who decides to break the World's Record for cycling distance in one hour. He builds his radical bike himself out of parts from a washing machine and the rest, as they say, is history. The movie doesn't just concentrate on his racing, but also focuses on how he deals with his inner demons, mainly depression. Johnny Lee Miller does a fantastic job playing Obree and the filming is exquisite, especially the racing scenes. You feel you're right there on the track with him. My only fault with movie is some of the Scottish accents are hard to make out. A subtitle option would have been nice. 4 stars out of 5.

Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi983893273

Friday, March 9, 2012

“Hideous Kinky”

Another great film that really should be renamed. Despite its misleading title, this is a terrific film. Kate Wins let stars as a mother of two girls, seeking spiritual enlightenment in Morocco in the 1970s. She leaves her deadbeat poet husband in London and ventures out with her family. She ends up striking up a friendship with a kindly street performer. The cinematography is excellent and vividly captures what life is like in the Mid-East. I thought the performances of the two young daughters were remarkable. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0136244/

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"The Upside Of Anger".

This movie was a pleasant surprise. Joan Allen plays a housewife who's been jilted by her husband and is left to raise her four daughters by herself. Enter Kevin Costner who's a retired baseball player turned disc jockey. The movie centers around their relationship as well as the exploits and maturing of the daughters. I thought the acting was outstanding especially by Joan Allen and her four daughters. And Costner doesn't have to try too hard to play a knuckle-headed ex-jock. And the writer/director plays the part of a smarmy radio producer to perfection. The story line was well though out--not your typical Hollywood fare. I'd give it four stars out of five.

Here's a trailer for the movie: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi855376153/

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Just wanted to welcome you to my latest venture--a movie blog. I know there are tons of them out there. But I figured since I watch about 5 or 6 moves a week, I'd like to share some of the gems I've seen. And, as I do with my music blog, I'll weed out the stinkers. So come back and visit often. And please feel free to make suggestions. I like a lot of off-beat movies and indie films (whatever that means these days, eh?) I also enjoy romantic comedies and foreign films.

And please tell your friends about the blog.